Head coach Jamie Joseph has admitted that even though he can't be sacked for team performance his future at the Highlanders is under pressure this season.
Joseph took over the Highlanders two seasons ago and impressed in his first season but last year the team failed to live up to expectations.
When asked whether his job would be under extra scrutiny Joseph admitted, "I guess so, but I would say that's every year."
"Successful teams are measured in different ways. One of them is on the scoreboard and another is how many guys we are bringing through, guys who were no-names."
"With that in mind there's a hell of a lot of those (no-names) in our team this year," Joseph told Fairfax NZ News.
"There's lots of reasons and lots of ways to measure the performance of a coach. I guess ultimately (for) the answer to that question you'll have to ask Roger (Clark, the Highlanders general manager)."
Like the rest of the teams, the Highlanders have yet to play a match this season so it is probably a little unfair to ask Joseph how comfortable he is in his future with the Highlanders.
However the Highlanders have had some big names playing for them and in 2013 they finished second last and have not featured in the play offs since 2002.
In 2014 there will be no Tamati Ellison, Hosea Gear, Ma'a Nonu, Colin Slade, Tony Woodcock and Andrew Hore amongst others but there is plenty of opportunity for new names to be created.
While Highlanders fans might be growing tired of their team failing to deliver Joseph is confident because he has had the bulk of his squad together for most of the preseason.
Ben and Aaron Smith will join the rest of the Highlanders squad later in the month but Joseph has been working with the rest of the players for some time.
"That's quite pleasing in terms of our preparation. Whether we are good enough to play the likes of the Blues and the Chiefs is what we'll be measured on in terms of the scoreboard, but going into it we'll be better prepared than we were last year."
The Highlanders main injury concern is Tasman captain Shane Christie who is recovering from a knee injury but making good progress.
The Highlanders start their Super Rugby warm ups against the Brumbies in Queenstown on January the 31st.